A scorer, ball handler, re-bounder, passer and defender, Bev Smith could do it all on the basketball court. Arguably Canada’s best-ever female player, she was also considered one of the world’s best players of her era.

Smith was born in Salmon Arm and she played field hockey, track and field, and softball as a youngster. Basketball became her passion at Salmon Arm Secondary School where she led the Jewels to three provincial championships and an 89-game winning streak.

In 1978 she left Canada to play four years of college ball with the University of Oregon. Smith helped the Ducks to a 93-19 record and still remains the school’s top re-bounder and second all-time scorer. After graduation Smith began a professional basketball career in Italy for twelve seasons. In 1992-93 as team captain for Vivo Vicenza, she won the Italian national championship and the European Cup.

“I loved all of it,” said Smith about her time in Europe. “I was able to play in a professional league, train full time and not have to worry about paying bills.”

Through her college and professional years, Smith was a member of the Canadian national team. At the world championships in 1979, Smith was named to the all-world team after leading Canada to a third-place showing. In 1984, she became an Olympian for the first time.

“It was definitely the highlight,” said Smith of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. “Basically it was one of the reasons why I played in the US and professionally–to become a better player on the national team.”

The 1984 squad finished fourth, the best Olympic result for a Canadian hoop team. Smith would take part in two more world championships and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta before ending her playing career.

The next season Smith successfully made the transition from player to coach. After a brief coaching stint at the University of BC, she became the national team women’s coach from 1997 to 2001. In her third Olympics she coached the Canadian team to a tenth place finish at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

Bev returned to Oregon the next season and in her first year as head coach, guided the Ducks to the WNIT championship. In 2001, Smith’s contribution to the sport was recognized with her induction into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Even with all her triumphs on the court, Smith believes her best basketball moment will take place in the future.

“I’m sure there is a lot more to come. I think you stay in the game to achieve new accomplishments. There is never any finish line.”